When the Minnesota Vikings play host to the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Mike Zimmer’s team will down a few key pieces. A trio of starters – quarterback Sam Bradford (knee), wide receiver Stefon Diggs (groin) and left guard Nick Easton (calf) – were all ruled out on Friday in regards to this key divisional encounter. Fortunately and yet, unfortunately, the Vikings have gotten used to performing without their quarterback of a year ago. Case Keenum has seen the majority of the action behind center this year, throwing for 895 yards, four scores and zero interceptions this year.

And remember this is a team that lost rookie running back Dalvin Cook for the season two weeks ago in a loss at Detroit.

But one aspect of this team is extremely healthy and that’s Minnesota’s defensive unit. If Zimmer’s team is going to hold serve at home on Sunday, it must rise to the occasion. And quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his teammates know the challenge that lies ahead.

An awful lot of talent

All told, the Green Bay Packers have a tall order ahead when it comes to this Vikings’ defensive unit. It came into Week 6 ranked seventh in the league in both total and rushing defense. The team had allowed its share of yards through the air. All told, this is a club allowed 18.6 points per game and had surrendered only eight offensive touchdowns in five contests.

However, seven of those scores have come via the pass.

Yes, Vikings versatile safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) was listed as questionable on Friday’s NFL injury report. And both defensive tackle Tom Johnson and linebacker Eric Kendricks were limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. But this is a unit that has a wealth of riches up front in Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter and veteran Brian Robison, as well as Johnson and Linval Joseph in the middle.

Kendricks teams with Anthony Barr and rookie linebacker Ben Gedeon. The secondary not only features Sendejo but a trio of former first-round picks in cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes and star free safety, Harrison Smith.

Packers may have an edge

If there is one area that the Green Bay Packers has a slight advantage in, it’s when the offensive unit sets up shop in the end zone.

Green Bay had 19 opportunities inside the opponent’s 20-yard-line in their first five games this season and scored 15 touchdowns. That 78.9 success percent is the best in the league. “They’re good,” explained Zimmer to Vikings’ team reporter Eric Smith. “Rodgers scrambles all the time when he’s in the red zone; it creates time for the receivers to get open.”

Meanwhile, don’t count out the Minnesota Vikings in that regard. Only four teams in the NFL were better at red zone touchdown percentage allowed enter Week 6. This encounter may be the key to the game.